Trust me, once you go down there you wouldn’t wanna come back up again.– Captain Taylor (Matthew Modine)
One wave short of a shipwreck I'm not at my usual top billing I'm coming down with a fever I'm really out to sea This kettle is boiling over I think I'm a banana tree - Queen; I'm Going Slightly Mad
I got this thing about chickens.– Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke in Angel Heart
I have a thing for chicke… sharks and I’m shit scared of the ocean; the darkness that goes on for thousands of miles. The darkness, the creatures it harbors. The deep layer existing below the thermocline, and above the seabed. Little or no light penetrates this part of the ocean and most of the organisms that live there rely for subsistence on falling organic matter produced in the photic zone. Plus, more is known about the Moon than the deepest parts of the ocean, the chemosynthesis; the tubeworm Riftia and chemosynthetic bacteria. It is all very scary (but then everything unknown is, even this website and its future).
So, I have a thing for sharks, they make me uncomfortable, very uncomfortable. And a shark suddenly showing itself out of the dark should not bite but bark… I digress again. That could be because the premise, which is right up this Holy Man’s alley is not being made full use of. I mean director Johannes Roberts (The Other Side of the Door, 2016) has an entire sequence brilliantly set and shot, and then the cable-crane breaks.
The suspense is enormous and the potentialities numerous, however, what we, as the keen viewer, as underwater horror enthusiasts, (there’s nitrogen narcosis for fuck’s sake) are not made to explore the full potential, with budding perils of bloody eventuality. That is not to imply that 47 meters is a bad film, no ma’am; It is pretty intriguing and also scary at times when Roberts wants it to be.
The ladies are hallucinating deep down there, after the line holding the cage breaks, at about 154 feet; they even have the BCD (buoyancy compensator) equipment to stay alive. Then there are the human factors, which are the physical or cognitive properties of individuals, or social behavior specific to humans, which influence the functioning of technological systems as well as human-environment equilibrium. In this case the fragile narrative structure equipoise.
Recreational diving is purely for enjoyment and has several specializations and technical disciplines, which the film does not bother to further, erm, dive into, what it does do is, crank up the agoraphobic action to full and then some, without much character building for the humans or the sharks.
The ladies are wearing rigid atmospheric diving suits (ADS) that enable diving to be carried out in a dry environment at normal atmospheric pressure. There’s also the diver’s umbilical, Saturation diving; the divers rest and live in a dry pressurized underwater habitat on the bottom or a saturation life support system of pressure chambers on the deck of a diving support vessel or other floating platforms at a similar pressure to working depth, as was shown in Underwater, 2020 and the rig that is, as if bitten through by a gigantic monster.
The divers are being transferred between the surface accommodation and the underwater workplace in a pressurized closed diving bell. Decompression at the end of the dive may take many days. If you combine all of that, it sure sounds like perfect fodder for an underwater horror film. Plus, the claustrophobia should be enough to send the viewer running to the balcony to get some fresh air. Sadly, that is also not something that director Roberts’ and his team decide to ponder – what they do is jump straight into the deep end, with as little equipment as a non-serious dive may require; but after watching Open Water, 2003, (the best, most harrowing and depressing low-budget deep-sea horror film out there), where two scuba divers are accidentally left behind in shark-infested waters, most films with a deep-sea narrative simply must pack just more than a solid punch to affect this cowboy, either that or they become moderately entertaining in their show n’ tell of the apex predators that probably get to be above the humans. It gets even scarier when humans are also taking that spot but getting eaten whole when it comes down to that. Just ask Samuel L. Jackson.
It’s all a deep end.– Dredd (Karl Urban)
However, in (at) 47 Meters, sisters, Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) take a boat tour that promises close-up encounters with sharks but soon enough find themselves trapped at the bottom of the ocean floor inside a damaged cage with too little air in their tanks, too many meters to the surface to make a safe ascent and too many CGI sharks in the area, ravenous with a bloodlust. The film was slated to go direct-to-video until it was picked up for theatrical release by Dimension Films and producers James Harris and Mark Lane, which was a good call, in retrospect, with Uncaged (part II) being released only two years later in 2019.
On the morning of Dec. 13, 2010, 30-year-old freediver William Trubridge plunged 100 meters (328 feet) below sea level off an island in the Bahamas, . The dive was a Constant Weight Apnea Without Fins – meaning the diver isn’t allowed to drop weights, and no swimming aids are allowed.
I remember my depth alarm going off and pulling the tag from the bottom plate, 100 meters below the surface, I remember keeping my eyes half-closed and telling myself to relax and flow as I set off on the long swim back towards the light. And I remember erupting into celebration with my team the moment the judges displayed their white cards.– Trubridge
Herbert Nitsch, an Austrian freediver who holds the No-Limits (AIDA International freediving discipline in which the freediver descends and ascends with the method of his or her choice) record, the title of Deepest man on Earth in which the diver can make use of a weighted sled to descend as far as possible. Nitsch is known for freediving to a depth of 214 m (702 ft), Nitsch set the world record in Spetses, Greece in June 2007.
Both events could’ve been taken into account and bits of it incorporated into the film; and it did look like (although scantly) that they were, nevertheless, the terrifying premise is not pushed to the limit by the filmmakers, who treat this outing more like Deep Blue Sea, 1999 (motherfucker) and that one with Statham and Ruby Rose (when she’s not a mute assassin in John Wick), The Meg, 2018. The filmmakers also took the easy way out by traversing the Crawl, 2019 way, offering few thrills for genre crazies, who are not that crazy; turns out.
This could have been set very close to real-life, as noted above and it would have made the film more interesting instead of simply relying on the Great White (quite a few of them) propelling itself through the water, persuading the viewers that this is something they should be scared of, instead of actually scaring them witless; letting many an opportunity to be thrown away to sea. Rather than adopt the entertaining cheesiness of such a far-fetched premise, co-writer and director Johannes Roberts tries to stick to the basics of a creature feature and fails to create anything memorable. Again, I’m not saying that 47 Meters is a bad film; just that it could have been so much more.
Johannes Roberts’ and his team in frog-suits work their way hard but I guess that is not enough for the more demanding deep-sea horror devotee. I mean, film director James Cameron has made more mysterious shorts during his dive to the deepest part of the ocean, towards the Challenger Deep in 2012 (10,984 meters (36,037 ft). On 26 March, he reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the submersible vessel Deepsea Challenger, diving to a depth of 10,908 m (35,787 ft).
Then there’s Victor Vescovo; the first person to have reached the deepest points of four of the Earth’s five oceans during the Five Deeps Expedition of 2018–2019. The a/v recorded by the two divers is more interesting than this film, which promises Jaws on steroids, but gives us Kate on LSD (nitrogen narcosis), and Lisa, suffering from the bends.
It is all very exciting and nail-bitingly suspenseful, but, but; it dissipates the intriguing premise and the appealing performances from Moore and Holt on a series of increasingly trite shock moments before climaxing with one of the most insipid endings ever (insipid but not all that ridiculous that the reviewers are making it sound), between its B-minus-sensory output, tatty visual effects and a storyline that goes far beyond the long line of shark-related films.
It’s 2019 and we have 3000 feet long sharks, sharks in shallow waters, sharks in a goddam swimming pool, just like in the song; “there’s a shark in the pool and a witch in the tree, and the creepy old neighbor is watching me“; airborne sharks, fucking Sharknado – it’s the age of sharkploistation and this baby just made this pilgrim very upset by not performing with full gusto. Yes, there’s tension, there’s a tragedy, there are the sharks swimming all over the place ready to devour and devour they do, but again, with less sensationalism than required for an underwater shark horror made in freaking 2017!
47 Meters is gripping but with abrupt anxiety that insidiously infiltrates your thoughts and the way the film is being consumed, quickly and not slow and steady, the way an underwater film is built; just watch Cameron’s The Abyss. The film does not have a single shark in it (if you don’t countMichael Biehn) but it is more terrifying than all those deep-dive films released after 2000 and Deep Blue Sea (1999).
But here’s the thing – these things do not matter for the deep sea horror enthusiast; we get excited to catch a glimpse of a shark, we get even more passionate when it eats the lower torso of an unassuming victim. Heck, what else would we want with Lisa (Mandy Moore) swimming out of the cage, in seas infested with killer sharks and the shark-cage whose crane keeps breaking – that one bit had me biting my lower lip and then a shark bites off an entire man and happily swims away as if it were Scorsese in Shark Tale, 2004, or Don Lino (Robert De Niro).
Anyway, this pilgrim (as mentioned numerous times before, is a deep-sea horror fan; I am what you ay call a true sucker for them shark films; sharks and the deep of the sea) and the lovely tight spaced, tension-filled, deep sea, survival horror by Johannes Roberts that keeps harassing the senses until there is nothing to be harassed… That ending though, those few minutes still have me lowering and shaking my head in disbelief. Roberts’s gamble may work on some tables and end up in snake eyes (house takes all) on others.
Watch it for the cinematography by Mark Silk (Feel Flows, 2013), the dark of the deep blue, the imminent and sudden attacks from creatures that have tickled the fancy of this pothead since I first saw Jaws, and that’s that. That time when I refused to even go near a swimming pool.
Polarized, with wasted potential is what comes to mind when it boils down to the rudimentary basics of a creature feature. Still, 47 Meters Down is as watchable as any creature-feature with a decent amount of scares, jump and what have you.
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